What we do

ASIO protects Australia and Australians from threats to their security.

In working to meet our purpose, ASIO must operate lawfully, in proportion to threats we are investigating, and in line with the standards and expectations of the Australian community. We do not just what is legal, we do what is right. A comprehensive oversight and accountability framework—comprising legislation and ministerial, parliamentary and independent oversight—provides assurance that we will continue to meet our commitment.

The ASIO Act defines security for the purposes of ASIO’s work—and in doing so limits the scope of our activities. These are commonly referred to as the ‘heads of security’ and include the protection of Australia and its people from:

  • acts of foreign interference
  • attacks on Australia’s defence system
  • espionage
  • politically motivated violence including terrorism
  • promotion of communal violence
  • sabotage
  • serious threats to Australia’s border integrity.

The ASIO Act extends ASIO’s responsibility for security intelligence beyond Australia’s borders and includes, in the definition of security, Australia’s security obligations to other countries. In fulfilling its obligations to protect Australia and its people, ASIO performs the following roles.

  • Collects security intelligence through a wide range of means including human sources and technical operations, using the least intrusive means possible in accordance with ministerial guidelines.
  • Assesses security intelligence and provides advice to government on security matters.
  • Investigates and responds to threats to security.
  • Maintains a national counter-terrorism intelligence capability.
  • Provides protective security advice.
  • Provides security assessments, including for visa entry checks, access to classified material and designated security-controlled areas.

ASIO does not collect intelligence on particular groups or individuals unless there is a security-related reason to do so. It is behaviour and activity that determines ASIO’s interest.

For further details on what we do, read about our roles in: